Halifax struggles to hire heavy duty mechanics as ‘big money’ continues to lure them west
Halifax is still looking to fill vacancies in its transit department — nearly two years after they began their campaign.
The Halifax Regional Municipality is looking to hire six Red Seal Certified truck and transport mechanics, as well as Fleet Supervisors.
“We’re hiring for about 10 percent of our workforce so it’s a pretty significant portion,” Nick Ritcey said, a senior communications advisor with the city.
In Spring 2016, the municipality began a marketing campaign in Alberta, aimed at attracting heavy duty mechanics to “come work back home.”
The campaign came during the economic downturn in the Alberta oil field market. But offering salaries large enough to keep tradespeople in Nova Scotia is still difficult, according to the city.
“I think in Nova Scotia in general, we are seeing a positive trend of qualified tradespeople coming back, or staying in Nova Scotia but we still are losing a lot of them to oil jobs and energy jobs out west. So, it is still a challenge to recruit for that quality of employee” Ritcey said.
Gerry Brymer is a heavy duty mechanic who’s spent the past four decades working and living in the Maritimes.
While he chose to stay in his home province, he isn’t surprised that Red Seal Certified workers are “picky” about where they want to work.
“It’s hard to find experienced technicians. Most of the good people are already working and they’re solid, they’re in a job. They don’t really want to move,” Brymer said.
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He also adds, that once people complete their apprenticeship and are Red Seal Certified, there’s a strong possibility pay scales in other regions are more appealing but those opportunities, come with pros and cons.
“Nova Scotia I think pays a fair wage, the big money is other places but the life is different too. If you’re going to do 21 days on, 21 days off and it doesn’t matter about family, that’s a whole other story,” Brymer said.
Nova Scotia’s apprenticeship agency says that it is working hard on improving career opportunities in the province.
” In 2018-2019, the Agency has increased the apprenticeship training offered in the Truck and Transport Trade to encourage apprentices to enroll in training and become certified,” the agency said in a statement.
“The Province of NS removed tuition from apprenticeship training in September 2017 to encourage progression to certification.”
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